Thursday, May 29, 2014

NH Progressive Summit

The 2014 Progressive Summit is taking place on June 7, at New England College in Henniker: 

Last year’s NH Progressive Summit theme was “Restoring Balance and Common Sense.” This year, the theme is “Building the Progressive Movement.” Whether it’s advancing pro-active legislation at the state and federal level that represents our key progressive values, guarding against conservative rhetoric, or challenging corporate political corruption of our legislative and electoral process – we need to continue to build the progressive movement in our state and country.

This is important work - see you there. 

To Register

More Information

Live Free But Don't Stop to Pee

                                 Inside the West Gardiner, ME rest area on the Maine Turnpike.

Circumstances beyond my control led to a trip north on the Maine turnpike. It had been years since I’d even been on it. Every Maine pilgrimage I’ve undertaken in the last decade was accomplished without the aid of the interstate.

Maine was green and blooming, Jethro Tull was in the CD player, and hot coffee was my best friend after a short night’s sleep. Coffee drinking result in rest stops. My first turnpike stop was at the Gray Service Plaza. Maine rest areas are very different from those we encounter in New Hampshire. There were gas pumps. There wasn’t a liquor store. The building was fairly new and attractive.  The bathrooms were clean, shiny, and smelled nice! They had free WiFi! It was glorious. In West Gardiner I stopped again, and found another new building with an octagonal roof. Inside was a fabulous exhibit of Maine artists and crafters. There was a Starbucks and a few other fast food vendors, as well as a small convenience store. The bathroom was large, well lit, well ventilated, and smelled clean. These plazas made an unhappy trip far more pleasant.

The Hampton, NH  rest area on I-95. 

A few days later I headed south to visit the family plot in Massachusetts. I stopped at the rest area on I-95 in Hampton. It was Memorial Day, and all the weekend travelers were heading home. The siren song of the giant highway liquor outlet beguiled many a weary holiday traveler with the promise of cheap booze for the trip home. That’s what there is at the Hampton rest area; a giant liquor store and a smaller store selling goods made in NH. Sandwiched in between are some ancient, dank, rest rooms, painted evil shades of tan and yellow, poorly (if at all) ventilated, and reeking of 10,000 years of flatulence. One stall had sodden bathroom tissue on the wet floor that featured a large puddle of liquid right inside the door.

There were no gas pumps. No coffee. No art exhibit. No WiFi. No sparkly clean, well-ventilated, pleasant smelling bathrooms.

                         The Southern Vermont Welcome Center on I-91.

Our neighbors in Vermont also have numerous attractive rest areas on their interstates. They all offer FREE coffee for travelers. All have free WiFi. The rest area in Sharon (north) has a Vietnam War memorial, and a hydroponic botanical garden. The Hartford (south) rest stop features displays of various aspects of VT culture, including agriculture. They want you to love Vermont so much that you’ll come back, maybe even permanently.

                                        The Sharon, VT rest area

The number 2 industry in New Hampshire is tourism. The top half of the state is almost totally reliant on the tourist industry. One would never guess that from our highway rest areas. They do not say, “welcome.” They do not say, “Thank you, and come back again.” Our idea of a cultural display is an alcohol outlet and some stinky bathrooms. Thanks for visiting NH! Do your kids like Jack Daniels? We’ve got fun for the whole family!!

Competition for tourist dollars is fierce in northern New England. Our neighbor states have chosen to make investments that enhance the travel experience of their tourists. Here in NH, we seem to think that folks are dying to come here to experience our failing infrastructure and buy booze. We refuse to invest in our state parks, our roads, our bridges, and our rest areas. We seem to think that some nice mountains, lakes, and rivers combined with minimal upkeep and deferred maintenance in our parks will keep ‘em coming back for more.

That, too, is emblematic of NH culture. Kick the can down the road, and when it lands in a pothole, pay the pound of cure.

The US infrastructure ranks 25th in the world. In 2002 we were in 5th place. Switzerland is #1. I’ll spare you the whole list, but it is worth noting that Barbados has a higher ranked infrastructure than the United States. Barbados spends 0.8% of its GDP on the military. The US spends 4.35% of our GDP on offense. This is why we can’t have nice things.

According to Top States for Business, 2013, the #1 state for infrastructure is Texas. NH is in 45th place. According to that same study, NH ranks 40th for cost of living, 13th for business friendliness, and 18th for the cost of doing business. Since the recession, Texas has invested heavily in infrastructure and education. The states that have made those sorts of investments are recovering jobs faster than the states that did not.

Job growth over the last 12 months has increased by 1.54% in Massachusetts, the fastest growing state economy in New England. Maine isn’t far behind, at 1.35%. Rhode Island comes in at 1.32% (they rank 21st in the nation in manufacturing), Vermont at 1.29%, NH at 0.83%, and CT at .05%. We’ve always been able to count on being a state that rebounds quickly. The NH economy has always been one of the fastest growing in New England. Those days appear to be over. We’re lagging behind states that we are usually ahead of, like Maine and Vermont.

I’m not suggesting that Vermont’s economic growth is a result of having attractive highway rest areas – but they are an indicator of what VT is doing that NH is not. Vermont is investing in both its people (education, health care, increased minimum wage) and its infrastructure (roads, bridges, telecommunications). States that are investing are thriving. NH is doing the opposite.

We all know that New Hampshire is a pretty great place to be, but that isn’t the message we’re broadcasting to the visitors who come to our state. This is something we can control. “Live Free But Don’t Stop to Pee” should not be a contender for our new state motto.

© sbruce 2014
Published in the May 30 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Welcome, Bienvenue, Wilkommen!

I went to visit my father's grave yesterday in Massachusetts. On the way, I stopped (as a middle aged female coffee drinker is wont to do) at the I-95 rest area in Hampton.

The parking lot was packed. Tourists returning from a holiday weekend in NH were taking the opportunity to stock up with cheap booze on the way home.

Tourism is NH's second largest industry. The top half of the state relies heavily on tourist dollars. Our idea of catering to tourists seems to consist of providing alcohol factory outlet shopping along the highway. 

Let's hope the tourists don't remember us for the bathroom at this rest stop. A narrow, unventilated space, painted dreadful colors, and reeking of the farts of the last 10,000 years. 

Thanks for visiting NH! Ya'll come back now, y'hear?? 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Free Keeners Deface War Memorial

This is the Civil War Monument found in Keene NH's Central Square. It's an infantryman, cast in bronze, honoring the men of Keene who fought in the Civil War. More on the history of the monument can be found here.

No matter how one feels about war, this is a memorial to the dead. It is a work of art. And it is in a public park. 

That's why it is distressing to see this:

The Free Keeners have defaced the  monument, and not for the first time. If you look behind the current graffiti, you can see a faint peace sign underneath that won't wash off. Just before Memorial Day, too. 

In 2009, Ian "Freeload" Bernard proudly boasted on the FK website that "heroic activists" had defaced the statue. 

Some heroes. Right up there with Rosa Parks. 

These heroic activists are not employed. They do not pay taxes. Taxpayers pay for the upkeep of the pubic parks that these heroes vandalize on a regular basis. 

The self-proclaimed heroic activists seem to be under the impression that sidewalk chalking is a daring form of civil disobedience, as opposed to a nuisance and an eyesore. Chalk easily washes off sidewalks. 

Vandalizing a memorial is something else entirely. 

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney were heroic activists. 

The FKers are stuck in perpetual delayed adolescence, spending their days engaging in bullying meter readers and defacing public property. 

Heroes?  Not so you'd notice. 

Ablow Steps in it Again

From Media Matters:

 Serial Sexist Dr. Keith Ablow at Fox strikes again!  In a recent discussion (where one of the female talking heads struggled to pronounce the word decorum) on an Illinois middle school having a battle about the wearing of leggings by female students, Ablow gifted us with his view:

ABLOW: You cannot come in with leggings. Because my son wants to learn and the truth is it is distracting. And it is kind of inappropriate because when did we decide as a culture that tights would become an overgarment instead of an undergarment. The reason we're doing that is because girls are in a panic to be more and more sexual because we've taken all the restraint away from femininity. We've made girls into boys.

The obvious question: Why isn't this kid being home schooled? If Mrs. Ablow isn't up to the task, surely Fox pays Ablow enough to send the little nipper to a private boy's school, where he (probably) wouldn't struggle so with the attire of his classmates. 

Also, could someone please point out to Ablow (such an apt name) that this is exactly the kind of thinking used to justify the wearing of burkas? This is the same old "the woman, she tempted me" bullshit that we've been hearing since Jesus wrote the Bible. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rand Paul is Not an Economist

In fact, he's barely a human being. 

Poverty level wages are "tough love" that we have to accept to get us out of the recession. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Now Brown Cash Cow

The 2014 legislative session is coming to an end. The House passed a lot of bills that met obstruction in the Senate. A number of NH Senators have announced that they won’t be running for reelection. With luck, a few more will reach that same decision.

Last week’s Senate vote on the creation of and increase to the state minimum wage is an example of why the Senate needs the application of a big broom. During the O’Brien years, the state minimum wage was struck down, leaving NH to march in lockstep with the federal minimum wage. Even the ability to set our own minimum was too frighteningly permissive for the O’Brien crowd. (Ironic when one considers that the gummint haters turned over the NH option to the federal gummint.) The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. If a minimum wage worker worked 40 hours a week, they’d earn $290 before taxes. The cheapest apartment advertised in the local classifieds was $600 a month, without utilities. Even if they could pay the rent, they’d be unable to afford utilities, food, transportation, clothing, and health care.

Most employers that pay minimum wage don’t offer full time jobs, because then they’d have to offer benefits. These same companies (big box stores in particular) also provide fluctuating hours, so a worker never has a regular schedule they can count on. That makes juggling other jobs difficult at best. When companies don’t pay workers enough to live on, the rest of us help subsidize their company profits, by picking up the tab for public assistance programs.

Legislators and business owners love to pretend that the minimum wage is a sort of training wage for teenagers entering the job market. In NH, 72% of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20. They’re breadwinners. In our brave new economy, where we manufacture nothing, the bulk of the jobs being created are low wage service jobs. Adults with families to support are competing with teens for low wage jobs.

The NH Senate voted to kill the establishment of a state minimum wage, and a two-step increase that would result in a state min. wage of $9 an hour by 2016. Senator John Reagan was quoted in the Laconia Citizen as saying he “thinks it’s silly to say someone couldn’t be supported on minimum wage, as they can take on multiple jobs.” Our local Senator, multimillionaire Jeb Bradley said that raising the minimum wage would harm teenagers and entry-level workers. It sure would suck for entry level workers to be able to afford food and shelter. Senator Andy Sanborn, who owns a bar/restaurant, drove up in his Mercedes to claim that an increase in minimum wage would hurt restaurants. Sanborn should have declared conflict of interest and abstained from voting. He pays some of his employees minimum wage. Former Senate President Peter Bragdon (who just signed a contract for a job paying $185,000 a year) called the bill “feel good” legislation. He’s right. It would feel good for workers to be slightly more able to feed their children and put a roof over their heads.

A couple of Senators took the minimum wage challenge, where they lived for a week on the minimum wage. Senator David Watters said that it quickly became clear that on that wage he wouldn’t be able to continue to live in Dover without food and housing assistance. Senator David Pierce said that the challenge produced such anxiety for him that he was shaken by the experience.

The cost of higher education has skyrocketed. The kinds of jobs being created offer low wages and no possibility of advancement. The creation and perpetuation of a permanent, poor underclass in our country will have dire consequences.

In other news, Scott Brown was in North Conway last week. Many of our local politicians were on hand to meet, greet, endorse, and toady up to the recent √©migr√© who wants to be NH’s next US Senator. From Lloyd Jones’ excellent news story, we learned that even though Scott Brown moved to NH in February some of our local state representatives and wannabes think Scott’s the guy who represents NH values.

Let us be clear about what kind of value our GOP friends see in Scott Brown. It’s green and has a funny pyramid on it. This senate election is reportedly going to be one of the most expensive in our nation’s history. Thanks to the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions by the Supreme Court, the amount of money shoveled into our state will be breathtaking. Our local solons understand that of all the candidates running against Senator Shaheen, the one who is going to have the big bucks behind him is Brown. Politicians are pragmatic folk, and they’re going to get behind the money candidate, and wait for the trickle down effect. The state GOP is desperate for cash. Mr. Brown is the cow they’re pinning their hopes on.

The Supreme Court has ruled yet again that money is speech. No longer do we have “free” speech, thanks to SCOTUS the kind of speech we have is very expensive. Those who give the most get the loudest speech. With no limits and no accountability. It’s called dark money, because there is no transparency. We the voters won’t know where all this money to manipulate us comes from. The only one who will know is the candidate. Big money comes with marching orders. We are about to be bombarded with negative ads, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

Negative ads work in two ways and both are intentional. They discourage people from voting and they plant lies that become truths. When Scott Brown was here last week, he repeated one of them. The Koch funded group Americans for Prosperity NH has been pushing a particular message for months: “Jeanne Shaheen Cast the Deciding Vote for Obamacare.” Scott Brown repeated that, and embellished it, by saying he was there and he saw her do it.

In Louisiana, Americans for Prosperity’s ads inform voters “Mary Landrieu Cast the Deciding Vote for Obamacare.” In Florida, Bill Nelson cast that vote. In Arkansas it was Mark Pryor. In Ohio, “Sherrod Brown Cast the Deciding Vote for Obamacare.” In Minnesota it was Al Franken. And in Virginia, Mark Warner “Cast the Tie-Breaking Vote for Obamacare.”

So, when Scott Brown says he was there and he saw her do it, he’s counting on the fact that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. It’s both craven and cynical - and that’s what life is going to look like in NH from now till November.

© sbruce 2014 
Published in the May 16, 2014 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Free Stater Cantwell: Sad, Mad, Victim

It seems my blog piece on the sickening views expressed by Free Stater Chris Cantwell caused him to get the sadz and the madz. How dare anyone criticize him for blaming a police officer for being killed in the line of duty and cheering about it? 

Free Staters are as constant as the sun and the moon in one respect: if you criticize them, they whine. It's always someone else's fault, and they are always the victims. 

In Cantwell's case, he had a big old hissy fit for himself. (NSFW)

The thing about putting your opinions out there in public is - you get held accountable for them. That's the joy and the sorrow of the First Amendment.  Cantwell's rant is the violent, heavily armed, adult version of a two year old tantrum in the supermarket. 

This is what the Free State Project has brought to our state. A big, angry, unstable, armed baby. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Free Stater Blames Brentwood Cop for his own Death

Brentwood Police Officer Steve Arkell who was killed in the line of duty.

Free Stater Chris Cantwell blames Officer Arkell for his own death:

"I don’t know the Nolan family, but according to neighbors, they weren’t dangerous people. Susan Hughes told the Union Leader that Michael Nolan “never really talked to anybody; he stays upstairs with his TV on.” James Culbertson, 73, said the elder Nolan “seemed like a nice guy.” The Union Leader reported that Walter Nolan’s wife died two years ago, and Michael Nolan’s died of cancer in 2008.

So how do these seemingly normal people find themselves in a gun fight and exploding home? Obviously, it’s because the great escalators showed up. Some busybody neighbor hears an “argument” and thinks this is a really great reason to dial 911, knowing that the most violent people around (the police) are going to show up. Said violent people show up, enter the house with a gun, without permission, and surprisingly enough, these folks who didn’t ask for help, aren’t so happy about this.

For whatever reason, maybe he’s irrational because he’s in a heated argument, maybe he genuinely doesn’t know it’s a cop, maybe he’s rightfully fed up with police breaking into homes, the guy in the house opens fire on the cop, killing him. Once this happens, he knows his life is pretty much over. He knows that more police are going to come, and if he’s lucky enough to survive the ride to the jail, he’ll probably never leave. Faced with this horrific scenario, setting his home ablaze and taking his own life starts seeming like a reasonable alternative."

Cantwell is working those "maybes" mighty hard. He has no idea what happened. In his twisted mind, it may be "obvious" that the shooting and explosion were because the police showed up. There's no room in his philosophy for the possibility of senility, mental illness, or alcoholism combined with weapons and explosives and the potential results.  He's a  virulent and potentially violent cop hater who was publicly kicked out of the Free State Project for advocating "violence against government agents." As Cantwell makes clear in his own blog, that BIG PUBLIC STAND on the part of the FSP, was just that. It was a show:

I’m not ostracized by every member of the Free State Project, in fact I’m still facebook friends with the president thereof, this is a PR stunt to avoid unwanted attention. New Hampshire is a great place to live, and the FSP board is only 5 people.

That much is true. Cantwell regularly posts on Free Stater blogs and forums. Many members of the FSP are listed as his FaceBook friends, including Free State Project President Carla Gericke and Free Keene cult leader Ian Freeload, whose views on the age of consent for sex between adults and children recently came to light. 

I've lived in NH for 30 years, and I've never had to get fed up with police breaking into my home. Why? It's never happened.

Cantwell goes on to put the frosting on his hate cake:

"As a New Hampshire resident, I couldn’t disagree more. I mourn the loss of Michael Nolan. I mourn the injuries of his father. I’m upset about the property damage. Not the loss of Officer Arkell’s life."

Cantwell's armchair suppositions are repellent. Blaming Officer Arkell for his own death is beyond the pale. 

The armed miscreants of the Free State Project who are in the process of colonizing our state love to tell us how peaceful they are. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

Free Stater Ian Bernard Opposes ANY Age of Consent

Ian "Freeload" Bernard of the Free Keene sideshow of the Free State Project, speaking on air - on his radio call in show, expounds on his view that children are able to decide for themselves when to be sexually active. Apparently children can't be exploited - they're perfectly capable of deciding for themselves. He doesn't believe in any age of consent. He doesn't give a cut off age, either. Would an infant be capable of consent in the twisted view of Ian Bernard?  

This is libertarianism taken to the extreme edge of the extreme. 

Notice how pissy he gets with the caller - and how uncomfortable his cohost becomes. (Note: his cohost is a convicted murderer.)  It seems "Pastor" Freeload thinks that if adults want to schtup children, it's nobody's business. 

Thanks Free State Project - you've really brought the cream of the crop to NH.  

h/t to SFK    This is a clip from the January 7, 2010 Free Talk Live show.

Karen Testerman Hosts a 'Welcome Home Gun Totin' Cretins' Party

US Senate candidate Karen Testerman is hosting a welcome home bash for the gun totin' cretins who went out to defend welfare rancher Cliven Bundy's right to graze his cattle on public land and not pay the bill. 

Republican New Hampshire Senate candidate Karen Testerman says she will host an event Monday night to welcome home "fellow NH Patriots" who went to Nevada to support controversial cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.
The event is slated for 6:30 p.m. at the Salmon Falls Church of Christ in Rochester. Testerman is one of four Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, along with Scott Brown, Jim Rubens and Bob Smith.
"These men and women did not use violence, broke no laws, caused no damage to property, spoke no insults or vulgarity to any local state or federal authorities, yet they have been branded as 'DOMESTIC TERRORISTS,' by the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid," Testerman said in a statement. "This is unacceptable. I call upon our sitting Senators to publicly denounce Harry Reid, call on him to apologize and extend a welcome to our fellow Granite Staters."

Yeah, they were regular Boy Scouts. Well, except for the pointing guns at people and planning to use women & children as human shields.

FBI questioning law enforcement about Bundy Militia

Las Vegas TV station KLAS reported Thursday that the FBI has begun interviewing Clark County sheriff's officials in what the news station describes as a "formal investigation into alleged death threats, intimidation and possible weapons violations" on the part of the Bundy militia.

Pointed weapons at law enforcement? Oh, say it ain't so. 

These are the same yobbos who were going to use women and children as human shields.

It boggles the mind that  Karen Testerman (who has made a career out of advocating that women serve as involuntary incubators) would be cheering on a bunch of Brave Sir Robins who were ready to have their women and children shot to protect themselves. 

Then there's the dishonest narrative behind the story. Cliven Bundy is a deadbeat and a moocher.

As for his claim that his family has been grazin' cattle there for 130 years?

Clark County property records show Bundy’s parents bought the 160-acre ranch where he still lives in 1948, two years after he was born in Bundyville, Ariz. — the same year the Bureau of Land Management was created through executive order by President Harry Truman.
Water rights were also transferred to the ranch itself, but not the federally managed land surrounding it, and court records show the Bundy family began grazing cattle on that land in 1954, when Cliven was 8 years old.
Moocher. This is the guy Karen Testerman is calling a "patriot." 
Let's not even get into the issue of Bundy's brilliant social commentary about "the Negro."
Testerman is welcoming home Jerry DeLemus, the teabagger and 9/12er whose wife, well known birther Sue DeLemus announced that Jerry was comin' home to run Strafford County Sheriff.
Funny how these antigummint guys are always so desperate to suck from the taxpayer teat. 

dads FOR gun violence

How long till some of NH's gun nuts hook up with these guys for a northern chapter?

I'm looking at you Rep. Hoell

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Sordid Tale of Capitalism and Hypocrisy

Senator Sanborn speaking to his constituency:


Keene Sentinel

Federal agents, assisted by Keene police, descended on a Main Street store in Keene Wednesday morning, confiscating hundreds of items as part of a national effort to target synthetic drug manufacturers and distributors.
Several agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration entered Phat Stuff at 84 Main St. shortly after 11 a.m. and served employees with a federal search warrant signed by U.S. District Court Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.

The store is owned by Panos Eliopoulos, who leases the space from state Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford. Neither Eliopoulos nor Sanborn could be reached for comment.
This is the same Senator Sanborn who threatened a constituent in January when he contacted Sanborn about legalizing marijuana. Sanborn later voted against a bill to legalize pot in NH. His convoluted logic on why he made that vote makes for a good read.
Even though Sanborn admits he's used marijuana in the past, he threatened a student, and angered his Free Stater/libertea buddies by voting against legalization. Now we know that even though he's opposed to legalization, he's not opposed to making money off those who partake. 

Union Leader story never mentions the fact that Andy Sanborn owns the building. NH media never misses an opportunity to protect the GOP.

Friday, May 09, 2014

The DECIDING VOTE on Obamacare

Scott Brown asserts (not very intelligibly) that Senator Shaheen cast the DECIDING VOTE for Obamacare. He says it's true - he was there! This is, of course, the message that his friends the Kochs dba Americans for Prosperity NH are pushing. 

This is the flyer that Americans solely  for the Prosperous are canvassing in Manchester with this weekend:

OMG! It must be true! Scott Brown says he was there! Americans for Prosperity have fliers that say so! After all, Greg Moore wouldn't lie to us...would he? 

Oh dear. It seems that he would. After all, how could Jeanne Shaheen cast the deciding vote if Mary Landrieu did? That's what Americans for Prosperity is saying in Louisiana:


Americans for Prosperity needs to get their story straight. 

But wait! If Jeanne Shaheen didn't cast the deciding vote because Mary Landrieu did, how could Bill Nelson have done it? 

American Crossroads is Karl Rove's PAC. Perhaps he and the Kochs need to get their stories straight. 

Uh oh. It was Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas who cast the deciding vote for Obamacare:

But wait - it was Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio who cast the deciding vote! 

OH NO! It wasn't Sherrod Brown - it was Al Franken!

Or at least that's what the Tea Party Patriots think. We now have 6 "deciding votes." 

But wait - there's more!  Ken Cuccinelli, the failed goobernatorial candidate from Virginia claims that Senator Mark Warner cast the tie breaking vote.

So, let's summarize. Jeanne Shaheen, Mary Landrieu, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Sherrod Brown, and Al Franken each cast the deciding vote on Obamacare, according to a variety of wingnut funders and PACS. According to Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Warner cast the tie breaking vote. Presumably all those deciders were tied, and required a tie breaker. 

Or not. What's really going on here is that Big Wingnut Money is spending lots of it to convince low information voters from targeted states that their Senator cast the deciding vote. 

Thanks SCOTUS!  

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Importance of Punctuation

Yesterday the Free Keeners were out striking a blow for freedom and liberty with sidewalk chalk:

Puts you in mind of Dr. Martin Luther King, doesn't it?  

Then was this:

A plea for help? Get US out of NH? Most of NH would be in favor of that! 

Big h/t and many thanks to Josh Erickson at Stop Free Keene for allowing me to use his photos.

A few Free Keene stories:

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Joshua's Law

This week the NH House passed SB 318, the bill known as “Joshua’s Law.” The bill establishes the official, stand alone crime of domestic violence. Up till now, abusers were charged with crimes from other statutes, such as simple assault, or criminal threatening. There was no legal distinction made between the beating of a spouse or a bar fight. This made the gathering of domestic violence statistics more difficult, and it also made keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers more difficult.

The need for good statistical information about domestic violence in our state is obvious. It’s important for the allocation of resources to both educate communities and law enforcement, as well as combating the crime itself. It’s also important to know if what we’re doing is working. It’s easy to gather statistical information about other crimes. This should be no different.

According to a 2012 Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence, approximately half of the homicides in NH and 92 percent of murder-suicides are domestic violence related. The was named “Joshua’s Law” in honor of the late Joshua Savyon, a nine year old boy who was killed by his father in 2013. Muni Savyon killed his son and then himself. Savyon was an abuser who was angry with his wife for leaving him. He was also part of the Free State Project, a group of libertarians moving to NH to colonize the state, take over the state government, and then threaten to secede from the union. These are people who hate the government and blame everything on “the state.” Muni Savyon was angry at “the state”, too. In his suicide note he pointed out that his ex “believed in the state so much” but they couldn’t prevent him from killing his son, thereby leaving her alone to suffer the same kind of pain he had been suffering.

The reality is that we don’t care much about domestic violence on any level. Talking about it makes people wince. Law enforcement has a historic aversion to dealing with domestic violence crimes. We’ve certainly come a long way. Back in the 90’s I went to the Conway Police with a complaint about a stalker, and a disinterested officer told me there wasn’t anything they could do, since he hadn’t done anything to hurt me. The fact that this man had been the subject of half a dozen restraining orders taken out by half a dozen women didn’t move him. When I suggested that he seemed to be saying that he wouldn’t develop any concern until the guy killed me, he told me I had a bad attitude. On that much we agreed. I did have a bad attitude about stalkers. I still do. But that was 20 years ago, and I know that the Conway PD has evolved, and that Chief Wagner has worked hard to ensure that evolution.

On the federal level, the crime of domestic violence is what is called a qualifying crime, which means that the abuser’s guns will be taken away, and they will not be allowed to legally purchase guns in the future. When a person legally purchases a weapon, the store calls NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, to determine the eligibility of the person who wants to buy the weapon. The NICS line is intended to keep weapons out of the wrong hands and ensure a timely transfer to a qualified buyer. This process has actually been slowed down in NH, because of the lack of a domestic violence statute.  The new law will streamline the process considerably. Responsible gun owners whose purchases should not be delayed will benefit from the new law.

This was bipartisan legislation. Sponsors included 6 Senators and 5 Representatives from both parties. One of the sponsors was our own Gene Chandler. Everyone could see the value in having a specific statute. In February, the Senate unanimously passed the bill. It passed the House this week on a vote of 325-3.

That’s right. Three representatives voted against this sensible legislation. All were men and all Republicans. They are Rep. Frank Sapareto from Derry, Michael Sylvia from Belmont, and JR Hoell of Dunbarton. I don’t know what Rep. Sapareto’s reasoning was. Michael Sylvia consistently votes against just about everything. (He, too, is a Free Stater.) JR Hoell is affiliated with a fringe gun group, the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, who proudly refer to themselves as “NH’s Only No-Compromise Gun Rights Organization.” In other words, they oppose any and all gun legislation. This seems to indicate that they are not interested in keeping guns out of the hands of violent abusers, which is truly a radical stance.

As luck would have it, I saw Rep. Hoell at the State House, and asked him why he voted against SB 318. He muttered something about “unintended consequences” and ran away. He was interviewed by WMUR-GOP, and expressed his concern for the term “intimate partner” which, in Hoellville, might be interpreted as having gone out on one date. The issue of violence didn’t appear to trouble him, only the idea that somehow the wording of that statute might prevent gun ownership. That an actual crime would have to be committed for that to occur did not concern him.

It’s unfortunate that we still have to have these discussions in 2014.

In the case of Joshua’s Law, however, the majority of our duly elected officials from both parties came together without rancor, to ensure greater accountability for abusers. This is how our citizen legislature is supposed to work. Be sure to thank and congratulate your state representatives. They’ve done a good thing.

* A letter that Rep. Hoell's fringe gun group sent out about SB 318 is posted below. 

© sbruce 2014  
Published as a bi-weekly column in the May 2, 2014 edition of the Conway Daily Sun 

No Compromise Gun Zealots

Dedicated to NH State Rep. William Infantine

Impressions from an Office
By Natasha Josefowitz

The family picture is on His desk
-Ah, a solid, responsible family man

The family picture is on Her desk
-Um, her family will come before her work

His desk is cluttered
-He's obviously a hard worker and a busy man

Her desk is cluttered
-She's obviously a disorganized scatterbrain

He is talking with his co-workers
-He must be discussing the latest deal

She is talking with her co-workers
-She must be gossiping

He's not at his desk
-He must be at a meeting

She's not at her desk
-She must be in the ladies room

He's not in the office
-He's meeting customers

She's not in the office
-She must be out shopping

He's having lunch with the boss
-He's on his way up

She's having lunch with the boss
-They must be having an affair

The boss criticized Him
-He'll improve his performance

The boss criticized Her
-She'll be very upset

He got an unfair deal
-Did he get angry?

She got an unfair deal
-Did she cry?

He's getting married
-He'll get more settled

She's getting married
-She'll get pregnant and leave

He's having a baby
-He'll need a raise

She's having a baby
-She'll cost the company money in maternity benefits

He's going on a business trip
-It's good for his career

She's going on a business trip
-What does her husband say?

He's leaving for a better job
-He knows how to recognize a good opportunity

She's leaving for a better job
-Women are not dependable